Feasts of Faith
Feasts of Faith
Excerpts from Feasts of Faith: Finding Jesus in the Jewish Feasts by Dallas & Carl Paetzold © 2011.
Coffee Talk for Monday September 8, 2014
Today’s Focus: The Feast Days of Israel
Carefully prepared just for you by your friend, Dallas & Carl Paetzold
Dear Father, thank you for Your ancient word. Thank you that it still has relevance for us today. We pray that You will use this study of the Feasts of Israel to increase our faith in You as we see Your faithfulness revealed through the ages. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Colossians 2:16-17, Deuteronomy 16:16-17
We watched the spring thunderstorm rolling into the Texas Panhandle, truly a majestic and powerful beauty to behold. Plenty of sky and few trees make for a massive, unhindered canvas. Expansive brushstrokes of monstrous dark blue and green clouds swept away the lighter blue sky as the storm built and made its way across the dusty landscape. Here and there, narrow rays of sunshine flashed forcefully through the imposing cloud ceiling, allowing us a glimpse into God’s magnificent sanctuary. Unfortunately, all was not calm under this glorious canopy.
“Grab the hanging plants off of the porch and get them inside!” Dallas barked to one child, “Lay the rocking chairs over on their sides,” she ordered the next child in line. Like little soldiers, each child stepped up to receive the subsequent command. As quickly as the instructions were handed out, they were obeyed; four children dashing about, contributing their part to outracing the storm.
In our part of the country, these types of storms usually have a leading edge of extremely forceful wind. Anything that is not secured may come flying through the window or end up in the next state. However, the wind rarely blows in North Carolina, where we lived for a few years. We would chuckle at the newscasters as they announced a 20 mph wind advisory and warned viewers to bring in their small pets.
When we moved back to the Texas Panhandle, we were met with the daily 20 mph wind and thanked God that it was a calm day for West Texas. We did, however, notice a strange habit developing in our four-year-old son, Connor, after about the third day we were back in Texas. “Why do you keep putting your arms over your head when we go outside, buddy?” Dallas asked him.
“I’m afraid the wind is gonna blow away my hair,” he replied.
It’s hard to argue with his good reasoning: After all, he wasn’t much bigger than a small pet. We assured him that God had attached the hair to his head with much more power than the wind could blow. We also reminded him that God is so powerful, that He simply walks upon the wings of the wind (Psalm 104:3-4). From that moment on, our little guy decided God must walk around our place quite often!
We used to despise the wind until we learned the Hebrew name for the Holy Spirit: Ruach Ha-Kodesh. Now we’ve learned to embrace the wind, respecting its power, observing its effects, even though we can’t see the wind itself. We respect the way the wind changes the events we have planned for the day, whipping us with a strong gust or cooling us by a slight breeze. Yes, the wind reminds us now of the Ruach Ha-Kodesh, in Hebrew sometimes translated: “Holy Wind,” or “Holy Breath.” Since the Lord spoke to Job out of a whirlwind, asking him if he understood the expanse of the earth, or if he had seen the storehouses of hail, or knew the way of the east wind scattered on the earth, we’re of the opinion that God lives somewhere in Texas!
However, He sent His Son to live in Judea as a Jewish boy who would become a great storyteller, teaching people through experiences familiar to them. He taught them from His own familiarity with the traditions of the day, and proved Himself as the long-awaited Messiah by becoming the Lamb of God that all the assembly sacrificed at the Feast of Passover. Luke 2:41-52 tells us that Jesus attended this feast with His parents every year in Jerusalem. What details of scripture might we uncover if we ventured back to the time of Jesus? What depth of intimacy, what secret of reverence might we understand if we sat with His family at a Passover meal eating matzah ball soup, or if we tagged along on the pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles?
In this study, we are not advocating one way or the other about observing the feasts. We have celebrated them in our home some years, and some years not, but we always learn something new from them. The Bible gives us some insight as to the usefulness of studying the feasts.
Read Colossians 2:16-17
This verse says the feasts “are a mere _________________ of what is to come; but the substance belongs to ________________.” (NASB)
This verse tells us the real purpose for the feasts; the feasts were intended to show us the Messiah. Only an actual, existent object and one that is relatively close to a light will cast a shadow. Jesus was in the beginning with the Father (John 1:1). He casts a shadow throughout the entire Old Testament and into the New Testament where, finally, the person of Jesus, who is casting the shadow, is revealed.
These feasts that were set up for the Israelites to observe are not an afterthought. God did not just randomly pick some days for the purpose of giving the people a day off from work. From the beginning, they were set up to teach about God’s plan for the redemption of man. The festival days are ultimately fulfilled in Christ.
So, what are the feasts of Israel? The Israelites were given seven annual feasts as well as a weekly Sabbath.
Read Deuteronomy 16:16-17. What three feasts did the Lord command the Israelites to observe?
God commanded them to go to Jerusalem three times each year to celebrate these feasts. The first trip to Jerusalem was to celebrate the feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits. These three feasts happen in fairly rapid succession, and, grouped together, they are sometimes collectively called the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The second trip, 50 days later, celebrated the feast of Weeks (what most Gentile Christians know as Pentecost) and the last trip to Jerusalem was to observe the feasts of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles (or Booths). These three feasts again occur relatively quickly, within the time span of about three weeks, and are sometimes collectively called the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths. (In this online study, we will only be studying Sabbath, Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits. If you would like to study the last four feasts as well as Hanukkah and Purim, check out our book, Feasts of Faith: Finding Jesus in the Jewish Feasts, available through Encouragement Café.com).
The feasts are grouped so that three trips to Jerusalem will allow the celebration of all seven feasts. Today’s Jews do not go to Jerusalem three times each year with their sacrifices and offerings because there is no temple in which to make the sacrifice. Solomon’s temple was destroyed in 586 B.C. by the Babylonians and King Nebuchadnezzar. Then, over 650 years later (tradition says on the same day, the ninth of Av), the Romans destroyed the rebuilt temple in 70 A.D. Because the temples were both destroyed many years apart, but both on the ninth of Av, Jewish people commemorate this day as Tishah B’av (literally translated, “the ninth of Av”).
For every interesting symbolism or custom we will highlight in this study, there are probably two or three more that could have been included. The history and traditions and culture of the Jewish people are rich with abundant opportunity to find Jesus in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. This study is not intended to be an exhaustive account of all symbolisms and traditions for each of these feasts. But, we hope that God’s word becomes wonderfully real and relevant in your life and that it influences your actions and thoughts as it has for us.
We’ll jump into the first feast outlined in Leviticus 23 in tomorrow’s study when we learn about the Sabbath. When is the Sabbath anyway? Did Jesus change the Sabbath to Sunday? Why doesn’t the Christian church celebrate Sabbath? Join us online tomorrow at EncouragementCafe.com. See you then!
Father, thank you for preserving Your word for us to study. Thank you for using such creative ways to teach us of Your love for us and of Your plan for our salvation. Please allow Your ancient word to change our hearts and influence our actions today for Your glory. Amen.
Paetzold, D., & Paetzold, C. (2011). Feasts of Faith: Finding Jesus in the Jewish Feasts. PCG Legacy Publishing.
Unless otherwise specified, All Bible verses will be quoted from: The New American Standard Bible. (1977). LaHabra California: The Lockman Foundation.